If you look at my Twitter profile, you'll see I follow about a quarter of the people who follow me.
You might think, "Gee, what a snob," but I'm not. At least, I hope not. A while back I decided to unfollow the spammers and other non-relevant follows so I could pay attention to people who have interests similar to mine.
Here's how I nurture a relevant group of follows:
1. Get rid of spammers with TwitCleaner.
TwitCleaner is a phenomenal Twitter utility that allows you to quickly and accurately purge your spam follows. If you haven't paid attention to who you follow, you will be shocked to see how many spammers have piled up.
2. Unfollow inactive accounts with Tweepi.
TwitCleaner doesn't do a very good job of identifying folks who no longer tweet. To clean out this group, use Tweepi.
Tweepi is a little kludgy compared to TwitCleaner, but it allows you to sort your follows by the date of their last tweet. Why follow someone who last tweeted several months or a year ago? Again, this is pretty illuminating if you don't pay much attention to who you follow.
3. Get rid of unfollowers with Tweepi.
I typically don't follow people who don't follow me. Tweepi identifies those don't follow you, which makes it easy to unfollow them.
For me, Twitter is valuable because of the interactions I have on it. Not everyone thinks like this, but I don't want to follow people who don't want to interact with me. If the person is a thought leader, there are a lot of other ways I can keep tabs on his pronouncements, like reading his blog and following conversations the people I follow have about him.
4. Manually follow people back.
I used to use SocialOomph to automatically follow people back. Then, as I mentioned above, I used Tweepi and TwitCleaner to clean things up. This was time consuming, so I started to manually follow people back. Although it takes a bit of time, I've seen several benefits:
- I can take a few moments to check out a person's profile and get a feel for what she's all about.
- I can add new follows to a list to follow them more closely.
- I can send a real, non-automated "nice to meet you" tweets.
All this adds up to more opportunity for real engagement. I still use TwitCleaner and Tweepi, but only once every couple months; now there's not nearly as much to clean up.
5. Follow people who talk to my follows.
I want to connect with people who engage. When I'm on HootSuite and see someone I follow talking to someone I don't follow, I'm immediately intrigued. Most of the time, a friend of a friend will become your friend.
Do you think it's helpful to limit who you follow? How do you manage your follows?
Brad Shorr is director of content and social media for Straight North, a Chicago marketing agency. A version of this article originally ran on The Straight North Blog. Contact Shorr on Twitter via @BradShorr.